Season: 1–2 & 4, Episodes: 48, Faction: Survivors/Freighter
Michael Dawson was a former construction worker and one of the middle section survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. Before the crash, Michael lost custody of his son Walt to his girlfriend Susan Lloyd and never got to know him. He had no access to his child until many years later when Susan died and he was awarded custody. After the crash, Michael had issues connecting with Walt, but the two eventually bonded during their time on the Island. He was in charge of the construction of the raft and attempted to leave the Island with Walt, Jin, and Sawyer to find rescue. However, while at sea they were attacked by the Others, Walt was kidnapped and the raft was destroyed. They washed up on shore, discovered the tail-section survivors of the plane, and headed back to camp. After communicating with Walt on the Swan station computer, Michael ventured a rescue alone, but was captured himself. When he returned, he shot Ana Lucia and Libby in order to release Benjamin Linus from captivity, and caused the capture of Jack, Sawyer and Kate, meeting his end of the deal he had made with the Others in return for Walt.
After leaving the Island on a motor boat with Walt, Michael returned to Manhattan, but racked with guilt, he became estranged from Walt and turned suicidal. In order to redeem himself he went undercover for Ben as a saboteur on the freighter Kahana, posing as a deckhand named Kevin Johnson. He was aboard the freighter when the C-4 bomb was found, and he froze its battery with liquid nitrogen to delay its detonation long enough for the Oceanic Six to escape, but the bomb eventually exploded, destroying the freighter and killing him.
Because of his actions, Michael did not “move on” and his spirit remained on the Island. Michael would use Hurley’s ability to see the deceased to try and aid his friends, and could be heard among the whispers.
Relationship with Susan
1×14 – Special
Michael Dawson was a construction worker and aspiring sketch artist. He lived with his girlfriend Susan, herself an aspiring lawyer, and the happy couple were soon expecting a new arrival in their lives. Named after Michael’s father (Walter Dawson), Walt was born to them on August 24.
However, not long after, Susan and Michael’s relationship broke down, and when she was offered an impressive job prospect overseas, Susan took Walt with her, leaving Michael without any access to his child. (“Special”)
Separation from Walt
1×14 – Special
Fighting to see his son again, Michael was abashed by his lack of legal rights, as at the time he had little income and could by no means challenge the standard of life Susan was providing for their son. After one heated phone call from a pay phone, Michael walked into the street without looking, and was hit by a car.
In the hospital, Michael drew Walt a cartoon designed card, a tradition he had apparently kept to for many years. While recovering, Michael was visited by Susan, who told him she had paid for all his medical bills. Michael challenged her motives, and she admitted that she wanted him to sign all custody for Walt over to her, as well as allow Brian Porter, her new husband, legal parental rights over their son. Michael challenged this idea wholeheartedly, and initiated arbitration over Walt’s custody. (“Special”)
2×02 – Adrift
During a legal meeting, Susan’s lawyer told Michael that “for someone who wants to retain his paternal rights so badly, you don’t seem to know much about your son.” This idea would later echo Michael’s relationship with his son, as he was never around as Walt grew up. He then fought for his right to be Walt’s legal guardian, as he was his biological father.
He later met his son in New York, where he gave him a stuffed polar bear. He ultimately accepted the fact that Walt would have a better life with Susan and Brian, and said his goodbyes. (“Adrift”)
Reuniting with Walt
1×14 – Special
Losing custody, Michael remained in America, but was contacted by Brian Porter many years later, who told him that Susan had died from a rare blood disorder. Brian insisted that Michael have custody of Walt back, and while Michael thought that this was due to him not caring about his son, Brian said that Walt was somehow different. In Australia, Michael was reunited with Walt, telling him that he would now be taking care of him.
Walt asked about Brian’s dog Vincent, and Michael told him Brian had said he could keep him. (“Special”)
1×24 – Exodus, Part 2
Together, they boarded Oceanic Flight 815, with Michael unsure if he could handle having a son in his life. Before he boarded the plane, he called his mom, expressed his insecurity, and asked her to take care of Walt. While he was talking with her, Locke can be seen being pushed in his wheelchair across the screen. Her ultimate answer was irrelevant, for the plane crashed, making it impossible for her to watch over Walt. (“Exodus, Part 2”)
On the Island (Days 1-44)
1×01 – Pilot, Part 1 | 1×02 – Pilot, Part 2
After the crash of Flight 815, the new relationship between Michael and his son was tested. Walt had only really known Michael for a matter of weeks, and did not yet respect him, or for that matter consider him his father. Much of Michael’s time would be dictated by trying to build a connection with his child. (“Pilot, Part 1”) (“Pilot, Part 2”)
1×06 – House of the Rising Sun
Early on during his time on the Island, Michael was particularly in conflict with Jin, who became jealous of his friendship with Sun (indeed, Michael was the first to learn her secret that she could speak English). The two men also fought when Jin found Michael wearing the Rolex watch Jin had been entrusted with by his father-in-law. (“House of the Rising Sun”)
1×09 – Solitary
Michael drew a diagram of a bamboo watering system which would separate the drinking and showering water. He showed this to Jack and he mentioned his previous life as an artist. (“Solitary”)
1×14 – Special
Michael also became jealous, but in this case of the bond Walt formed with Locke, so much so that he accused John of having improper motives in befriending his son. However, it seemed that Michael simply wanted Walt to engage with him on the same level as he did with other survivors, and after he saved Walt from an attacking polar bear and showed him the drawings he had made for him every year, their relationship seemed to grow. (“Special”)
1×17 – …In Translation
So much was Michael’s will to take Walt away from the Island, that he began to build a raft. After his first construction was burnt down, Michael gained the help of an unlikely ally, Jin, to aid him in his new design. (“…In Translation”)
Mobisode x09 – Tropical Depression
Dr. Arzt informed Michael that Monsoon season was approaching and that they needed to launch the raft soon. However, Arzt later revealed to Michael that he made the story up, just to get them to launch the raft as soon as possible. (“Tropical Depression”)
1×22 – Born to Run
On that same day, Michael suddenly fell ill. It was later revealed that Sun tried to make Jin ill by contaminating his water bottle, but that Michael had accidentally drank from the bottle. Michael recovered quickly and continued the build the raft. (“Born to Run”)
1×23 – Exodus, Part 1 | 1×24 – Exodus, Part 2
He and Jin became strong friends, and managed to build a sturdy boat able to carry up to four people. With the boat complete, Michael, Jin, Sawyer and Walt cast off in search of rescue.
1×25 – Exodus, Part 3
However, they were intercepted by a boat belonging to the Others, and in the chaos that followed, Walt was taken, and the raft was blown up by a petrol bomb. (“Exodus, Part 3”)
Associated LOST Themes & DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members & Lovers
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
The preeminent God of the city of Memphis, one of the earliest administrative centers of the unified Egyptian nation, Ptah apparently lent his name to the nation itself, at least in the Greek tongue. The Egyptians called their nation Kemi, or something approximating to this, but the Greek name which we have inherited to refer to this land, Aiguptos, appears to be a Greek transliteration of an Egyptian name for the city of Memphis, He[t]-ka-Ptah, ‘House of the spirit of Ptah’. Due to its position at the junction of Upper and Lower Egypt, Memphis is described as “the Balance of the Two Lands, in which Upper and Lower Egypt had been weighed” in the conflict between Horus and Seth, representing Lower and Upper Egypt respectively (Lichtheim vol. 1, 53). Ptah, a God of life, intelligence, speech (especially the word of command) and craftsmanship, is depicted as a standing mummiform man, wearing a skullcap and a broad collar with a large tassel at the back and holding a sceptre combining the ankh, djed, and was (uas) symbols. Ptah is mummiform, not because he has funerary associations, but to symbolize his participation in the state of changeless perfection with which mummification is associated. Ptah’s consort is Sekhmet and Nefertum is his son. The Apis bull was regarded as Ptah’s mortal representative and the deified vizier Imhotep came to be regarded as Ptah’s son as well. In addition, some late depictions of Ptah in magical contexts depict him as a beardless dwarf—fully humanoid, unlike Bes—in most cases holding snakes in his hands; in one instance, this image is labelled “Ptah endowed with life,” (Holmberg, 182). This image is apparently also commonly intended to depict the triune fusion deity Ptah-Sokar–Osiris. Ptah is also so frequently allied with Tatenen in the fusion deity Ptah-Tatenen that in many cases ‘Tatenen’ seems simply to have become an epithet of Ptah’s, but it is always safer to assume, given Egyptian conservatism with respect to theological formulae, that references to ‘Tatenen’ in texts embed a reference to Tatenen himself.
Until Ptah came to be allied with other deities associated with the afterlife such as Sokar, his role in the literature of the afterlife was slight. Only oblique references are made to Ptah in the Pyramid Texts, from which it appears, however, that Nefertum was already regarded as his son; PT utterance 573 urges Re to commend the deceased king to “him who is greatly noble, the beloved of Ptah, the son of Ptah, that he may speak on my behalf.” Ptah is best known for his role in the famous ‘Memphite Theology’, an Old Kingdom text existing in a 25th Dynasty copy. In this text (trans. in Lichtheim vol. 1, 51-57) Ptah is said to be the “heart and tongue of the Ennead,” the nine who conventionally represent all the Gods. In the Memphite Theology, the other Gods come into being through the thought and speech of Ptah, indeed as the thought and speech of Ptah. On the one hand, Ptah is thus given precedence even over the primordial God Atum; among “the Gods who came into being in Ptah” are “Ptah-Nun, the father who made Atum” and “Ptah-Naunet, the mother who bore Atum.” This sort of precedence, however, which is accorded to many if not all Egyptian deities when they are the focus of contemplation, at the same time does not displace the inalienable attribute of all Gods in Egyptian theology, namely the power of self-creation. Hence in the ‘Memphite Theology’ itself, the ‘tongue’ (i.e., creative utterance) of Ptah is that through which “Horus had taken shape as Ptah, in which Thoth had taken shape as Ptah” (ibid., 54). That is, to the degree that Ptah’s creative utterance is prior to all the other Gods, it also renders Ptah’s identity relative, for it becomes the instrument by means of which Gods such as Horus and Thoth create themselves. The purpose of the ‘Memphite Theology’ therefore is not solely the glorification of Ptah, but rather the glorification of the all-pervading power of mind itself, through identification with which Ptah is perceived as supreme: “Thus heart and tongue rule over all the limbs in accordance with the teaching that it is in every body and it is in every mouth of all Gods, all men, all cattle, all creeping things, whatever lives, thinking whatever it wishes and commanding whatever it wishes,” (54).
CT spell 647 is called “Protection through Ptah.” In this spell Ptah speaks in the first-person, attributing his name to an exclamation by Atum: “‘O my son, how beautiful is your face’,”—’beautiful of face’ (nefer-her) being a common epithet of Ptah— “‘My likeness [i.e., Atum’s] is created [p-t-h],’ and that is how this my name of Ptah came into being.” Ptah’s functions in this spell seem to center around being the ideal ruler as well as the lord of natural generation. He performs the typical royal act of offering Ma’et as a symbol of promoting harmony in the universe: “I have lifted Ma’et onto the altar of Shu who is in the coffin.” Ptah thus carries forward the cosmogonic work of Shu just as a royal successor ideally carries forward the will of his predecessor. Ptah’s special association in this respect is with living things. He affirms that he makes “the herbage to grow … I make the riparian lands of Upper Egypt green, I the Lord of the deserts who makes green the valleys in which are the Nubians, the Asiatics and the Libyans.” Elsewhere, he states that he is charged with “nourishing the grain of the Field of Offerings and knitting the seed together,” and that he “give[s] life, controlling offerings for the Gods the lords of offerings.” Ptah also identifies himself here with Nehebkau “who grants souls, crownings, ka‘s and beginnings … when I wish, I act, and they live.” He calls himself “the Lord of Life,” and the operator identifying with Ptah states that “Seth is my protection because he knows the nature of what I do,” for as lord of life and vitality Ptah can legitimately invoke the assistance of Seth, who favors the strong. This subtly underscores that Ptah’s sphere of activity does not lie in the afterlife, but in this world; compare in this respect BD spell 82, “For assuming the form of Ptah,” that is, “eating bread, drinking beer, excreting from the anus, and existing alive in Heliopolis.” Ptah here is paradigmatic of the living state. Ptah manifests his characteristic qualities of perception and command, just as in the ‘Memphite Theology’, expressed here through a union with Sia and Hu, respectively embodying these attributes: “I am Hu who is on my mouth and Sia who is in my body.” These qualities permit the extension of Ptah’s power into any domain, and hence Ptah states here that “I have steered the Night-bark and the sailors of the bark are in joy.” In CT spell 1143, Sia (perception) is said to be “in Ptah’s Eye.”
A specific funerary role was seen for Ptah in the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony, which is more typically the role of Anubis. BD spell 23, however, explains the nature of the association when it says “my mouth has been parted by Ptah with this metal chisel of his with which he parted the mouths of the Gods.” Here Ptah’s role as God of intelligent speech combines with his role as artisan, for the “mouths of the Gods” in question belong to the cult statues which Ptah, as patron of craftsmanship, has fashioned. This important function with respect to the Gods’ statues is doubtless one of the factors underlying the attribution to Ptah of power over the entire pantheon, as in the ‘Memphite Theology’; cf. BD spell 15: “Ptah art thou, for thou fashionest thy body.” It should be noted that Ptah’s name is often connected in later texts with an Egyptian verb p-t-h, meaning ‘to open’ or ‘to sculpt/engrave’, although this is not the word for ‘open’ which occurs in the name of the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony. It is doubtful, also, that this verb is the origin of Ptah’s name, insofar as it appears to be a Semitic loan word (Holmberg, 10). Ptah’s craftsmanship is characteristically expressed by the verb n-b-i, meaning to mould or model, and particularly to melt or cast metal. Ptah sometimes appears to be especially associated with metalworking, as in a text from Edfu, in which Horus is urged to “Grasp the harpoon which Ptah, the goodly guide, fashioned for Sekhet [the Goddess of the marshes], which was fashioned in copper for thy mother Isis,” (Holmberg, 46). Ptah as smith or sculptor can be contrasted with Khnum as potter, as in a scene from Denderah which portrays the fashioning of Ihy, the son of Hathor, by Ptah and Khnum together, Khnum turning Ihy on a potter’s wheel while Ptah sculpts his form with a chisel (ibid., 47).
Other common epithets of Ptah are ‘south of his wall’, apparently referring to the position of a shrine of Ptah within his temple at Memphis, and ‘under his moringa tree’, referring to a tree sacred to Ptah which was cultivated for its oil seeds. Ptah is also depicted sometimes as raising up the sky, probably from his association with building (see, e.g., CT spell 626 where Ptah erects the coffin by analogy); this image and its associated ideas have been studied exhaustively in Berlandini 1995.
Patron of: creation, craftsmen, artisans.
Appearance: A man with a punt beard, wrapped up like a mummy, but with his hands free which grip a great staff made up of the symbols for life, stability, and power. Sometimes he wears a skullcap crown and stands on the hieroglyph for Maat.
Description: In the Memphite theology, Ptah is the primal creator, the first of all the gods, creator of the world and all that is in it. He is not created, but simply is. In some stories he is the personification of the primal matter, Ta-Tenen, which rose out of Nun, the fundamental seas. His wife is said to be Bast (or Sakhmet) and their children are Nefertem, Mahes, and Imhotep.
Ptah’s importance may be discerned when one learns that “Egypt” is a Greek corruption of the phrase “Het-Ka-Ptah,” or “House of the Spirit of Ptah.”
Worship: Worshipped throughout all of Egypt, his cult centers were Memphis and Heliopolis.
Ptah-Seker-Osiris, A composite funerary god worshipped during the Middle Kingdom period. In this form he represents the three aspects of the universe: creation, stability, and death.
In Egyptian mythology, Ptah was the deification of the primordial mound in the Ennead cosmogony, which was more literally referred to as Ta-tenen (also spelled Tathenen, Tatjenen, etc), meaning risen land, or as Tanen, meaning submerged land, though Tatenen was a god in his own right, before being assimilated with Ptah. Ptah also is referred to as the noble Djed.
It was said (in the Shabaka Stone) that it was Ptah who called the world into being, having dreamt creation in his heart, and speaking it, his name meaning opener, in the sense of opener of the mouth. Indeed the opening of the mouth ceremony, performed by priests at funerals to release souls from their corpses, was said to have been created by Ptah. Atum was said to have been created by Ptah to rule over the creation, sitting upon the primordial mound.
In art, he is portrayed as a bearded mummified man, often wearing a skull cap, with his hands holding an ankh, was, and djed, the symbols of life, power and stability, respectively. It was also considered that Ptah manifested himself in the Apis bull. He may have originally been a fertility god because of this.
In Memphis, Ptah was worshipped in his own right, and was seen as Atum’s father, or rather, the father of Nefertum, the younger form of Atum. When the beliefs about the Ennead and Ogdoad were later merged, and Atum was identified as Ra (Atum-Ra), himself seen as Horus (Ra-Herakhty), this led to Ptah being said to be married to Bastet / Sekhmet, at the time considered the earlier form of Hathor, Horus’, thus Atum’s, mother.
Since Ptah was the primordial mound, and had called creation into being, he was considered the god of craftsmen, and in particular stone-based crafts. Eventually, due to the connection of these things to tombs, and that at Thebes, the craftsmen regarded him so highly as to say that he controlled their destiny. Consequently, first amongst the craftsmen, then the population as a whole, Ptah also became a god of regeneration. Since Seker was also god of craftsmen, and of regeneration of the sun during the night, Seker was later assimilated with Ptah becoming Ptah-Seker.
Consequently, Ptah-Seker became considered an underworld deity, and eventually, by the Middle Kingdom, become assimilated by Osiris, the lord of the underworld, occasionally being known as Ptah-Seker-Osiris.